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The Goons

The Goon Show was a highly original, surreal, very British radio comedy which was first broadcast in May 1951. Regular production ended in 1960, although there were later specials and the show has been repeated ever since.

The Goon Show starred Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe with Michael Bentine also starring in the first two series (until July 1952). Other regulars in the show were Max Geldray, Wallace Greenslade and the Ray Elllington Quartet.

Spike
(drawn by Harry)
Click image to hear Spike

Most of the scripts were written by Spike Milligan, sometimes with Larry Stephens or Eric Sykes.

Describing the Goon Show is not easy. The BBC originally called it "Crazy People, featuring radio's own Crazy Gang". Nowadays, it tends to be compared to Monty Python. In between, it's been compared to everything from Kafka and Ionesco to the Marx Brothers. Perhaps the best description is Harry Secombe's "a time of hysteria and brandy, for soaring upwards on the thermal currents of Milligan's imagination".

As for the main characters in the show, only Spike Milligan's description will do:
Eccles (Spike Milligan) - The Original Goon. Spends his days walking around saying "Hello dere" to anyone who will listen.
Bluebottle "You rotton swine you. You've deaded me." (Peter Sellers) - A cardboard cutout, licorice and string hero.
Neddie "Needle nardle noo" Seagoon (Harry Secombe) - True blue British idiot and hero always.
Mr Henry "You can't get the wood, you know." Crun (Peter Sellers) - A thin ancient and inventor.
Miss Minnie "Stop playing that sinful, modern-type music, buddy." Bannister (Spike Milligan) - Spinster of the Parish.
Comte Toulouse-Moriarty of the House of Roland (Spike Milligan) - French scrag and lackey of Grytpype-Thynne.
The Hon. Hercules "You silly, twisted boy." Grytpype-Thynne (Peter Sellers) - A plausible public school villain and cad.
Major Denis "It's all lies, I tell you! Lies!" Bloodnok, Ind. Arm. Rtd (Peter Sellers) - Military idiot, coward and bar.
Willium "Oy, Mate" Cobblers (Peter Sellers) - Drains cleared while you wait.

Peter
(drawn by Harry)
Click image to hear Harry

See separate pages on:

After the Goons, as well as acting in occasional movies and TV shows, Michael Bentine wrote several books, both fiction and non-fiction. In 1971, he was awarded the Peruvian Order of Merit for work during an earthquake there. He died from prostate cancer in 1996.

Harry
(drawn by himself)
Click image to hear Spike

Ray Ellington formed the Ray Ellington Quartet in 1950. As well as the Goon Show, the Quartet was featured in another BBC radio show, Mr Ray and Mr Ros (Mr Ros was bandleader Edmundo Ros.) He later formed the Ray Ellington Big Band.

Max Geldray was a Dutch jazz harmonica player who had played with Django Reinhardt in Paris before setting in England. After the Goon Show, he emigrated to California and became active in the Christian Science Movement.

Wallace Greenslade had been a BBC announcer since 1945 and worked in a variety of shows during and after his time on the Goon Show. He died in 1961.